A California Cartoonist Tells the Heartbreaking Story of Losing His Santa Rosa Home to the October Fires

Cartoonist Brian Fies shared the heartbreaking story of completely losing his Santa Rosa, California home and everything in it to the October 2017 Tubbs fire. Fies and his wife Karen awoke in the middle of the night to the smell of smoke. Acting quickly and calmly, the Fies’ packed those items most important to them and drove over to Karen’s office. The next day, Fies went back to the house only to find it was no longer there. It and everything around it had burned to the ground, as had much of the neighborhood. As a way to mourn the loss of his home, Fies took up pen and paper to document the experience in illustration. Shortly afterwards, KQED brought his story to life with beautiful animation.

Just one day after his house and everything in it burned to the ground, the Larkfield cartoonist bought some cheap paper, Sharpies, and highlighters, and got to work reporting what he and his wife had seen the night of the fires. The resulting cartoon came quickly, with more raw edges than Fies’ usual standards, but it was undeniably, unflinchingly honest. …Now, KQED Arts bring his story to life. With moving animation, and with narration straight from Fies and his wife, Karen.

Fies shared a number of photos from his harrowing real life experience.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.